Novak Djokovic pulls out of Miami Open, citing virus restrictions

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MIAMI — Top-ranked Novak Djokovic pulled out of the upcoming Miami Open, citing COVID-19 restrictions as he joined Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on the sideline.

The tournament begins Tuesday, with only 750 fans allowed on the grounds per session. The pandemic is also affecting attendance by players.

“I decided to use this precious time at home to stay with my family,” Djokovic said in a statement. “With all restrictions, I need to find balance in my time on tour and at home.”

Nadal pulled out, citing a bad back that bothered him during the Australian Open. Federer, mounting a comeback from knee surgery, withdrew March 1. They’re based overseas, as is Djokovic.

“This has been a difficult year for everyone,” Miami Open tournament director James Blake said in a statement, “but especially for players with families.”

There has been less attrition on the women’s side. Serena Williams, Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka and No. 1 Ash Barty are among those scheduled to compete.

Barty won the tournament in 2019. It was canceled last year because of the pandemic.

Djokovic won his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last month. The Serb is in his 312th career week at No. 1 and recently broke Federer’s record of 310 total weeks in the top spot.

Nishioka beats Shapovalov to win Korean Open

2022 US Open - Day 1
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SEOUL, South Korea – Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka claimed his second career title after beating fourth seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-4, 7-6 (5) to win the Korean Open.

The 27-year-old Japanese, who beat top seed and world No.2 Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals, was impressive in defense and his counter-punching style eventually wore down his higher ranked opponent in just under two hours at the Seoul Olympic Park Tennis Center.

The unseeded Nishioka, appearing in his second championship match this year after reaching the Washington final in August, started the brighter and found his rhythm early to claim the first set.

The second set saw momentum change as Shapavolov found his range from the backcourt to take a 3-1 lead. But Nishioka rallied to take the set into a tiebreak where he held firm to win his first tournament since his maiden title at the Shenzen Open in 2018 – where he also beat Shapovalov in their only previous meeting.

The ATP Tour returned to Seoul for the first time since 1996 after the city was awarded a single-year license to stage the Korean Open.

Mayar Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event

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PARMA, Italy — Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian to win a WTA Tour event by beating top-seeded Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3 at the Parma Ladies Open.

Besides earning her first career title, Sherif also notched her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Along with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals this year, Sherif is raising the profile of tennis in North Africa.

The 74th-ranked Sherif actually had to win two matches on Saturday, first overcoming sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals, which were postponed a day due to rain.

The seventh-ranked Sakkari beat Danka Kovinic 7-5, 6-2 in her semifinal earlier Saturday.